Singapore launches International Year of Co-operatives

Singapore's Minister for Education, Mr Heng Swee Keat, officially launched the country’s program for the International Year of Co-operatives (IYC) celebrations at the 30th Anniversary Dinner of the...

Singapore's Minister for Education, Mr Heng Swee Keat, officially launched the country’s program for the International Year of Co-operatives (IYC) celebrations at the 30th Anniversary Dinner of the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF), the apex body of Singapore’s co-operatives.

Joining the launch at Resorts World Sentosa, were Minister of State, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, Mdm Halimah Yacob, Advisor to the IYC National Committee and Member of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Global Board, Mr Seah Kian Peng, Chairman of the SNCF Executive Council and Singapore’s IYC National Committee, Mr Chan Tee Seng, Chairman of the Central Co-operative Fund Committee, Mr Chandra Das and more than 400 members and guests of the Singapore Co-operative Movement.

Led by SNCF, the IYC 2012 is poised to be the most significant milestone for the Singapore Co-operative Movement, as it brings together more than 12,000 members of various co-operatives who will be engaged in a year-long series of activities that will raise awareness and educate the public about the social value and impact of co-operatives. These programs include, ‘Co-opaliciouz’, a mass carnival at the Marina Barrage, which among its many goals, aims to set a record for the largest number of co-operators reading to children; and a regional conference for close to 1,000 regional leaders from the co-operative, charity and social enterprise sectors, who will converge in Singapore to discuss merits and social impact of the co-operative model of enterprise.

Dolly Goh, Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) said: "IYC will be one of the biggest celebrations in recent history of the Singapore Co-operative Movement in terms of scale and number of people involved. It is a golden opportunity to get more people to appreciate the economic and social benefits of co-operatives. SNCF is proud to be leading Singapore co-operatives in these initiatives that aims to inspire more like-minded individuals to come together to embrace the co-operative enterprise model of self and mutual help."

The launch of Singapore’s IYC program signals the commencement of a series of initiatives that promotes co-operative principles such as ‘co-operation’, ‘self and mutual help’, and ‘caring for the community’ – principles which are essential for character building to foster more resilient communities.

Minister Heng said: “Co-ops play a special role in society, combining economic viability and social responsibility.” Hailing co-operative values as essential for character building among youths, children and parents, Minister Heng added: “In today’s fast-changing world, we need to foster a stronger and more resilient generation to deal with the complex challenges that will come their way. Character development is certainly vital to nurturing a more compassionate and resilient community; and I am glad that SNCF and its affiliates have been actively seeking out opportunities, partners and platforms to build character among our young.”

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The first of several key initiatives for 2012 that was unveiled at Singapore’s IYC launch was a series of children’s story books to encourage character building, promote reading and instil positive values among children.

The series would be launched in 4 parts throughout the IYC year in 2012. Written by award winning writer Emily Lim, and supported by the SEED Institute and the National Library Board (NLB), the stories are based on co-operative values of co-operation, self and mutual help and caring for the community.

A photography competition will be launched in March to provide a platform for the general public, especially photography enthusiasts to put their shooting skills to good use. Participants will need to interpret co-operative values and represent them through photographs. Award-winning photos will be displayed during the flagship Co-opaliciouz event on 9 June.

Co-opaliciouz aims to bring more than 10,000 co-operators and their children together to learn about co-operative values through the mass reading of the organisation's storybook.

In July, the organisation will also be launching a series of postage stamps to commemorate Singapore in celebration of the International Year. A total of 11,000 commemorative stamps are expected to be exchanged throughout 2012 and the stamps will be put to use in selected celebration activities.

To celebrate the close of the International Year, one thousand co-operative leaders from the Asia Pacific region will join a conference in Singapore. The ‘How Social Capital drives Growth and Sustainability” conference will provides a platform to discuss the value and future direction of co-operatives. Author Rosabeth Kanter who wrote the acclaimed book ‘SuperCorp’ will be the keynote speaker. To mark the end of the conference, 100 co-operators from Singapore and region will go on a round-trip car rally to Malaysia.

In January 2013, a closing dinner will be hosted for 500 leaders and members of Singapore co-operatives. An awards presentation will also take place to honour those who have contributed to growing the co-operative movement in Singapore.

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